|Police surveillance photo of John Cammilleri (left) and Salvatore "George Raft" Bonito
John Cammilleri was born May 8, 1911, to Angelo and Lucia Diana Cammilleri in Campobello Licata, Sicily. He crossed the Atlantic with his mother and three siblings at the age of five, arriving in the U.S. aboard the S.S. Giuseppe Verde on May 30, 1916.
Cammilleri was 19 when he was first arrested. The original charge of grand larceny was reduced to petit larceny, and Cammilleri received a suspended three-month prison sentence and a $10 fine. He was again arrested for grand larceny on June 5, 1931. That charge, stemming from the theft of an automobile, was reduced to malicious mischief and resulted in a $15 fine.
Cammilleri's good fortune in the courtroom continued two months later. He was arrested for first-degree assault after firing a gunshot at Joseph Morabello. The court discharged him.
On Dec. 23, 1931, Cammilleri married Josephine DeCarlo in Buffalo.
|Cammilleri in 1933
At about this time, Cammilleri joined the DiCarlo Gang and began shaking down operators of craps games and bookmaking parlors for a share of their profits. He was arrested Oct. 2, 1933, with DiCarlo Gang members Anthony Tuttino, Sam "Doc" Alessi and George Rolando. The group was charged with first-degree robbery and extortion after holding up John Rogers for $22 and threatening to kill him if he did not make $5 weekly payments to the gang. Cammilleri was convicted and sentenced on Feb. 2, 1934, to a 20-year term in Emira Reformatory.
Cammilleri was labeled "Public Enemy No. 14" on a list compiled by Buffalo Police Commissioner Austin J. Roche, and his criminal record was filed with the FBI.
Released on parole in the summer of 1936, Cammilleri became a construction labor foreman with Laborers Local 210. In 1948, he established the J.C. Concrete Company and began working closely with Victor Randaccio to ensure Magaddino Crime Family control of Local 210. Cammilleri partnered with Frederico Randaccio and "Pat Titters" Natarelli to form Frontier Lathers, Inc., in 1960. The company supplied barricades and construction warning signs. Using his influence over Local 210, Cammilleri was able to extort contactors into using the services of the new company.
Cammilleri was identified as a Magaddino Crime Family lieutenant in a chart prepared for the U.S. Senate's McClellan Committee in October 1963. The FBI kept constant watch on his activities and documented his regular meetings with higher-ups at the Magaddino Memorial Chapel in Niagara Falls. In 1965, the New York Commission of Investigation questioned him under immunity about criminal activities in Rochester.
Cammilleri was among three dozen men, including Joseph DiCarlo, Frederico Randaccio and Pasquale Natarelli, arrested in the May 8, 1967, raid at Panaro's Lounge. Charges of consorting with known criminals were later dismissed in Buffalo City Court.
|Cammilleri in 1969
In 1969, Cammilleri was found guilty of testifying falsely to a federal grand jury. He was sentenced to two years of probation.
Cammilleri's links to organized crime and organized labor came to light in June 1971, as a federal grand jury probed underworld involvement in the construction of Buffalo's new Federal Building. Early stages of the project had been plagued by delays and cost overruns relating to problems with workers from Laborers Local 210. After the contractor hired Cammilleri as a labor coordinator, all proceeded smoothly.
Factions developed within the Buffalo Crime Family in spring 1973, as a disagreement erupted over Victor Randaccio's continued role with Local 210. Cammilleri joined Fino and Daniel Sansanese in support of Fino's son Ronald as Local 210 business manager. DiCarlo, the Pieris, Roy Carlisi and Joseph Todaro, Sr., remained committed to Randaccio. Running on a reform platform, Ronald Fino won election overwhelmingly. However, following his victory, Ronald Fino refused to appoint Cammilleri to his desired position of Local 210 personnel director.
Cammilleri did not keep his disappointment a secret. He spoke angrily with Joseph Fino, expressed discontentment with Pieri's leadership and threatened to pull his crew out of the Buffalo Crime Family.
On the evening of May 8, 1974, Cammilleri celebrated his 63rd birthday with friends at Buffalo's Roseland Restaurant. He left briefly to attend a wake and then went back to the restaurant. As he stepped from his automobile, a light-colored sedan squealed to a stop behind him. A man armed with a .38-caliber revolver jumped out of the sedan and fired three shots, leaving Cammilleri dead on the sidewalk.
|1974 police surveillance photo of Cammilleri leaving Roseland Restaurant.